Brazilian woman pleads for Government to allow her to return to Invercargill home after tragedy

A Brazilian woman who flew her husband's body home to be buried after a rafting accident in Southland is pleading with the Government to let her return to New Zealand.

Melyssa and Joel Palmeira had been living in Invercargill for four years, raising their daughters Bianca and Jaqueline, when tragedy struck.

Joel worked as an electrical linesman and died in a rafting accident near Te Anau in February. The family flew his body back to Brazil to be buried.

When Melyssa left New Zealand her visa was cancelled, and she and her daughters are now stuck in Sao Paulo.

"He's gone and now they say to us just 'okay, you don't have more visa'."

The family is desperate to return to New Zealand and for the girls to get back to James Hargest College. Everything they own is in Invercargill.

"If we were home at least we'd have his things, we would have our friends and try to have a life and here we don't have anything, our life is on hold," says Bianca.

Immigration NZ told Newhub that Melyssa's visa was cancelled because her late husband was the principal applicant. For her to return to New Zealand she would have to apply for a new visa, but that isn't possible because of the current border restrictions. She doesn't qualify for an exception.

Melyssa's started a petition gaining over 5000 signatures

"My wish is that Immigration looked at us like humans, like a family, not just a number."

A family grieving the loss of a husband and father, stranded half a world away from the place they call home.